National Geographic : 1955 May
RUGES A CANAL-GIRT ;NICE of the NORTH North Sea. 634 Inland Bruges Thrusts Watery Fingers Out to Sea In the Middle Ages goods from Bruges reached the North Sea by way of Damme and an estuary called the Zwin (lower right). When sand choked the channel, the port's prosperity came to an end. By digging canals to Ostend (1622-65) and Zeebrugge (1896 1907), modern Bruges re-estab lished its connection with salt water (page 642). One day I climbed the 365 Blan steps to the top of the Belfry Bruges-Zei of Bruges, then clambered up a ladder to beams where Ostend hung the bells of the tower's (std carillon. Below me a party of British tourists clattered up the stairs. Above the chatter I heard a clipped, cultivated voice ask, "What exactly is it a belfry of?" -/ A good question. For J Bruges's beautiful bell tower, Sea which stands in the Market Square, rises from no church or town hall. It was begun in 1281, on the ruins of an older tower destroyed by fire, to house the charters that granted independence and privileges to the city. In an alcove halfway up the tower the documents were kept in strongboxes behind double wrought-iron gates (page 655). Cities of the Middle Ages jeal ously guarded their privileges and autonomy and felt strongly their individuality as city states. At the Belfry's base, the Halle served as a warehouse to store the cargoes of ships, which could sail right up to the square. The Belfry stands on piles sunk into the stream bed; with the weight of years the tower has leaned slightly from the perpendicular. The tower housed a great bell that rang to warn the town of danger or on occasions of great rejoicing. Watchmen kept vigil on the high battlements for the approach of enemies or outbreaks of fire. Present-day Coast North-Sea. Hej -h_ (LL CL IC-L-L L: 'L -- L.L . L_.~LL L_L -- i..* ~L rL .L I-.*.L L ~F~ .L.. a...c.L -L- .*- -. L- .~L.L C ~ L. ~Z .e..c..L_.L .L~ -I~- -1- * . R L.L LLL ,.L .L .L *L. ,_. ,: -.~ i~"~, LL *--L-~ * L ~ ,., LP*I_ .. r~-. ~. L.L. -L L~L. . LI- .C C*-C .* -. *-, ). C. -L - IC JL-*- Cc L.C. * i~v, LI.~ *- L-.L-- L- L. ~. L,L.L ~-. L~ )L iL_~* L. *- -- * _ L-T).r ~ n :rL~II4 L- C \"^ " " L-L L (3~C(~CIIC3t~l~U~nilCS C L. Iruqes - - ~' r, LL -- ,_, = LJ~---Lc- L L L- -~ L O.L*-- .13 L--LIO . *-.X L .LL .